Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)

By: Victoria Purman

Their dream was for her to work hard and get accepted into a great east coast school.

“Dream big.” Her mom had always urged her. “Get out of Montana. Go get a career and see the world.” They wanted her to be a lawyer or a doctor. Something that screamed success.

But Cady had different dreams. They were big, too, but they didn’t involve courtrooms or operating theatres. She’d been afraid to tell them at first that the more she studied, the more she liked food. Home economics had become her favorite subject at high school and nothing else had ever stuck in her head like the science and art of baking.

One day, when she was in her senior year, Cady had gathered her mom and gran to the kitchen table. She’d made a delicate sponge cake, its layers smeared with sweet strawberry jam and whipped cream, and had made coffee. And then she’d broken the news to them that her dream wasn’t law school or med school but that she really wanted to go to one of the best culinary institutes in the United States and learn how to bake.

One bite of that sponge and they’d each agreed. Cady finally got to follow her big dreams, leaving Montana four years ago to go to that fancy school, once they’d all saved up enough for her tuition fees. Her fancy dreams hadn’t worked out quite the way she’d planned, so she’d come home a year ago to start her own business in a safe place.

And now, Cady got to go to work every day in her bright pink shop which had her name emblazoned across the front window. Kinda funny because she wasn’t even remotely close to being what some people might describe as a girly girl. Her style was practical and simple. She spent most of her time elbow deep in dough and pastry, for Pete’s sake. It was all she could do at work to smudge on a bit of tinted lip gloss. She loathed high heels, preferring chef clogs when she was whipping up her creations. She had never once in her life ever worn the color pink and was more usually found in T-shirts and worn through the knee jeans than anything that might be mistaken for a dress.

But she knew, from the moment she’d signed the lease on the shop, that it had to be pink. She had dreamt about her shop before she had ever owned it and she created it exactly as she’d dreamt it—sweet and pale pink like the icing on a little girl’s cupcake. If the little girl was a girly girl, of course. And if she wasn’t? Easy. Cady had made all kinds—with smears of brown and khaki camouflage for children who liked playing soldiers; red, blue, yellow and purple for Wiggles fans; and she couldn’t count how many she’d iced in the pale blue and silver of the character from that super popular animated film with the princesses, the name of which escaped her.

Cady surveyed her shop with a ridiculous sense of exhausted satisfaction. Cady’s Cakes look as sweet as the cookies and cakes and muffins she baked. As tantalizing as sugary icing and donuts, as tempting as the chocolate and mint slices she stacked neatly in her display cabinets. Its white painted bentwood chairs and wooden tables, photographs of the Montana sky framed in rows on each wall, its pale pink painted walls and its high ceilings were exactly as she’d imagined, but only better because it was real and it was hers. Her cake shop was light and big and the counter with glass display cabinets on top ran down one side, the cash register at the counter dogleg at the front. She’d painted the chairs, sewn the pink gingham curtains and hung them, and decorated the place all by herself and she still shimmered with delight every morning when she came down the stairs of her apartment above, turned left on the sidewalk and slipped her key into the front door lock and flicked on the lights. Even when she was tired. Even when snow was piled up on the footpath and she had to jump over it to push open the half-frozen front door. Even when she’d had an ill-advised extra glass of wine at The Drop Zone the night before and was still feeling just the teensiest bit lightheaded.

None of that got in the way because Cady’s Cakes was hers.

Every day, she was her own boss. Every day, she was in control of her own destiny, her own career, her own choices, her own life. All of that had become super important to her after what had happened. She knew if her mom and gran were still alive today, they’d be so proud of her. Even in Glacier Creek, Montana, her customers expected nothing but the freshest cakes and the hottest coffee—every day except Sunday—when she had her one and only sleep in day of the week, and she made sure she lived up to the expectations of her customers.

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